From donning the famous Phantom mask to setting sail with Titanic the Musical, Kieran Brown (BA Dramatic Studies 2000) is enjoying a busy career on stage. Now living in London, the acclaimed West End performer chats to Mark Good about life on tour, pushing the boundaries and why Glasgow is such a great place to pursue the performing arts.
How have you enjoyed touring with Titanic the Musical?
KB: Titanic has been fantastic fun. I played William Murdoch, who was in charge of the ship when it hit the iceberg. It is a multi-Tony Award-winning musical which had never been done on this scale before. We have been everywhere from Cardiff to Belfast, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Birmingham and more. The final few dates were in Germany.
Touring is fun but you have to get used to living out of a suitcase. By the time you are starting to put down roots in a city, it’s time for the Saturday matinée then you’re off to the next destination.
How do you look back on your studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland?
KB: My time went by in a flash, I look back with great affection. I’m very proud of the training I received.
People will often focus on London but I always say they should really consider RCS for great training. I have done a lot of jobs where I have been amazed at the number of people who do not have a grasp of the basics of performing I got those in my first year at RCS. I’m so grateful to them for that.
Part of my course was about managing the business side of things, which was really useful. In our honours year, we split up so people could focus on their specialisms including directing, performing and education. All of us left with a good head on our shoulders which ensured we were prepared for the industry.
We were encouraged to follow our own paths and make the most of all the opportunities which were available. We also had a mentoring scheme, where we were put in touch with a previous graduate. That was a really beneficial process.
Tell me about some of the productions you were involved in during your studies.
KB: I got quite lucky and always managed to get decent roles in the productions. We did a David Greig play called Europe and I had a good role in that. We did The Birds, directed by Guy Chambers.
Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme took me completely out of my comfort zone. Stags and Hens was another play we did. One of my highlights was a production of Into the Woods for the institution’s 150th birthday. There were students from the music, drama and opera schools all taking part. That was such a highlight, a fabulous production.
How important is it to keeping pushing the boundaries?
KB: There are some people who make a career out of living within their comfort zones. They are usually the people who are really bored and jaded with the whole thing. I think it’s really important to push the boundaries of what you are capable of that’s what keeps you feeling fresh and alive.
What was Glasgow like as a place to study?
KB: I love Glasgow, it is one of my favourite cities. It has everything: the culture, restaurants and the shopping. It was a great place to be a student.
Everyone on tour loves going to Glasgow. The audiences are very vocal. If they like something, they will let you know and if they don’t, they will let you know. For me, Glasgow is the real heart and soul of Scotland.
Tell me about some of the work you have undertaken since graduating.
KB: From drama school, I went into Les Misérables in the West End. That was fantastic. I travelled around Europe doing some musicals and lived in Vienna for six years, travelling back and forth for work.
I performed in Love Never Dies, the sequel to Phantom of the Opera. Then I worked as the understudy Phantom in the West End. It’s every male performer’s dream to pull on that mask so that was very special.
I am a founding member of the Barricade Boys, a four part vocal group. That has taken me around the world, with highlights including New York City and travelling on some amazing cruise ships.
How important is it to be versatile in your work?
KB: It’s vital to open up your peripheral vision and be adaptable. At the moment, there is a trend for actor/musician shows so if someone has the ability to play an instrument, that really helps. It comes back to stepping outside your comfort zone. I think it’s really important to be ready to create your own opportunities.
What would you say to anyone thinking of following in your footsteps and studying at the Royal Conservatoire?
KB: If you are going to do it, throw yourself into it 100 per cent. If you love it and you’re completely committed to it, you find a way of making it work.
In the grand scheme of things, your student days are such a short space of time. I would love to rewind and do it all again.